Marlow Regatta 2012: Whilst the ICBC Women’s Squad were braving wind, waves and splintered blades at Women’s Henley, the men were enjoying a whole new side of racing at Dorney Lake. Due to a reasonably big race happening in a few weeks time, the boating pontoons were out of bounds for all non-Etonians. This meant crews were boating in the shallows of the warm up lake; wading through fields of cow pat and knee-high grass just to get on the water. To make matters worse, Dorney had brewed up another classic crosswind, which caused horrendous delays getting onto the start. In spite of these morale crushing obstacles, Imperial managed to come away with some great performances (and a few pots) boding well for Henley.
Despite their unexpected success at Metropolitan Regatta, the Senior Quad of Dan Powell, Sam Cottrell, Simon Steele and Rory Sullivan were realistic about their chances in an extremely strong field at Marlow. With a powerful crosswind playing a major part in proceedings, the boys managed a critical win in their heat to gain one of the better lanes for the final. They achieved this despite Sullivan’s best efforts; he lost his blade with 1k to go, but kept his head and stroked them back past Upper Thames to win the heat. In the final the quad drew lucky lane 7, which (contrary to the crew’s later protestations) was least affected by the howling wind blowing across the course. In a tight sprint to the line with a crew from New Zealand’s West End the ICBC quad clinched another Senior victory. Olympic rules meant no spectators were allowed in the final 300;, however Cottrell still celebrated in style, raising his arms aloft to the 20,000 empty seats surrounding the course whilst his crew turned the boat for the paddle back to the boating field.
There were two other Imperial quads entered for the Senior Quad event. Tim Richards has less luck in the lane draw, and in the final was stuck in the rough waters of lane 4 in his lightweight composite quad. They finished 4th in the final. The all-Imperial lightweight quad had been forced to scratch due to illness of stroke-man Myles. A substitute had been found in the form of Duncan Grant (yet another Kiwi lightweight legend to add to the growing Imperial collection). However the curse of the LM 4x stroke-seat struck again when the night before, whilst rushing to the toilet to chunder after a bout of food poisoning he slipped and cracked his head on a table. Rumours that it was a long-winded excuse in order to avoid sitting in the quad were put to bed when Duncan showed up later in the day sporting a rather fetching face-wound.
Imperial’s Elite Coxed Four of Henry Goodier, Ben Spencer-Jones, Jonny Rankin, and Alistair Hudson-Kirkham with cox Jess Johnson had a strong start to the day, winning their heat in convincing fashion against an experienced London crew. In the final they had Taurus on their inside in lane 7. The Oxford Brookes alumni were very strong in the first half and got their noses in front and despite Imperial’s slightly faster ‘cruising’ pace they couldn’t bridge the gap, leaving them finishing 2nd.
Photo courtesy of Gaby Turner
The Sport Imperial 8 (pictured second from bottom) of Josh Butler, JPD, Billy Fields, Tom Fielder, Leo Carrington, Matt Whaley, Alex Gillies and Adam Seward with legendary cox Henry Fieldman won their heat of Senior eights. The newly reshuffled (bow-stroked) 8 have been training hard in the past few weeks, with a weekend training camp in Ely the highlight for many of the boys. They say that another great moment was when ‘super-sub’ Rory Sullivan gave them a technical insight into his rowing for just one outing, and cox Fieldman said that Sullivan was one of the nicest guys and best rowers he’s ever had the pleasure to work with. Anyway, in the final of the Senior eights competition the boys had a tough lane but battled through to a solid 4th place, with Durham, Molesey and Brookes finishing ahead of them in a very close race.
Danny Bellion was making his big comeback since a bad back injury suffered on training camp. His heat of the Senior Sculls was extremely tough, and in the worst lane Bellion just missed out on the final. Fortunately for everyone, he will be making the switch to sweep for Henley Royal Regatta, where he will be rowing with Will Todd and Pierre Thomas in an Imperial/UL composite.
Other crews racing on the Saturday at Marlow included the Elite eight, featuring a number of all-star Imperial lightweights who hope to make their mark on the Ladies Plate. The Sunday saw the final race of the 2012 season for Imperial Novice Boys squad. Through an unfortunate series of cancellations these guys haven't had much racing experience this year, and they did exceptionally well over the shortened 1000m course, beating a number of crews to finish behind A S R Nereus (Amsterdam) in the novice eights and novice coxed fours.
All in all a very successful Marlow Regatta bodes well for Imperial before Henley Regatta. Look out for the boys and girls in blue, black and silver whilst you are sipping your Pimms by the river next week!